5 Kinds of Photography Equipment That Waste Your Money

5 Kinds of Photography Equipment That Waste Your Money

A Guest Post by Kat Landreth from Pare and Focus

I love the idea of photography gear that will do the job without breaking the bank. Unfortunately sometimes the equipment I try ends up wasting my money instead of saving it.

Do you hate spending your hard earned cash on gear that doesn’t work? These are the five biggest photo equipment mistakes I’ve made and the gear I now use instead.

1. Lens Blower/Brush

blower-brush-202px.jpgSeems like a cleaver little tool right? It’s not. It actually makes my lens even dirtier. The blower doesn’t have enough force to really blow anything and the brush is worse because it sheds bristles everywhere. I shouldn’t have to clean up after the cleaning tool.

Now I use a Rocket Blower to blast dust and grit with air and a Lenspen to whisk away the rest. If you’re curious about cleaning technique check out this article on how to clean a DSLR lens.

2. Cheap UV Filters

Cheap-UV-Filters-202px.jpgSome people suggest using a UV filter to protect your lens while you shoot. They’re not supposed to effect your pictures so you should be able to leave them on your lens all the time.

Just my luck, the cheap filters I bought made all of my pictures soft.

So how should you protect your lens instead?

  • If you’re not willing to give up on UV filters, image quality is better when you pay up for top of the line versions.
  • A lens hood can put some distance between the glass and anything that can scratch it.
  • And of course there’s my personal favorite- the lens cap.

3. Dedicated Bean Bag

Beanbag-202px.jpgBefore I went on safari everyone said I should buy a beanbag to prop up my camera when I couldn’t use a tripod. So I bought one and by the end of the trip I hadn’t used it once.

There were definitely times when the beanbag could have been useful but it was always more handy to fold up a jacket or sweater to put under my camera.

4. Cheap Tripod

I thought it would be OK to spend less on my first tripod. Then I realized there are good reasons people buy more expensive tripods. They’re often lighter, sturdier, and easier to use.

My first cheap tripod (and it wasn’t truly cheap at $80 US) started to break down after two months of use. It was too big and too heavy to carry around my neighborhood let alone bring with me on trips.

Buying $80 tripods once a year seemed like an expensive habit so I made an investment in a tripod I won’t have to replace for a long time. Added Bonus- I actually like to use the new tripod.

5. The First Camera Bag You See

Gear-that-wastes-money-300px.jpgThe day bought my camera I also got a camera bag to protect and carry it. I hardly use it. It just doesn’t feel right.

It’s really no wonder I don’t like that bag. I didn’t know what style would work for me or the kinds of gear I would need to put in it. It can take time to figure these things out but you have to use something until you find the right bag.

I bought a Lenscoat DSLR cover and a padded lens bag. The Lenscoat goes on the camera body, and the lens bag fits over any lens I own even when it’s attached to the camera. This modular system keeps my gear safe enough to carry in regular backpacks and purses.

I’d still like to find the best camera bag for me but this system is perfect until then.

Help Me Out

I know I’m not the only one who’s ever wasted money while trying to save it. And I know some of you might love the gear I loathe. So let me hear it. What’s your least favorite photo gear? If you disagree with this list tell me about that too. Maybe you’ll convince me to look at my unused gear in a new light.

Kat Landreth writes PareandFocus.com –budget friendly photography tips, tricks, and tutorials.

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Some Older Comments

  • Shinji Sano July 1, 2013 07:47 pm

    The brush of blower brush is not for the lens. It is for the body of the camera.

  • Gilbert June 3, 2013 03:33 am

    I dont agree with the camera bag. I always have to carry an lot with me, and such bags are an relieve. Because i always got several lenses with me, and two blitzers. Two blitzers is the least you need when you want to light an person or an animal well....three is better, but well some where you need to draw the line.

  • carolyne May 4, 2012 10:42 am

    yes i love my camera its a 50D , ofcourse i would love a 7D but just not yet ,but i have taken some great shots with it and everyone is right its not what you use its how you use it and as far as a camera bag well i started with one of those ones that come with the camera ,i think they through it in when i brought the camera but soon found that it was giving me a sore shoulder so i went to good old harvey norman and found the bag of my dreams ,just a backpack but still its great bright orange inside so you can find everything well and really good to carry ...... im just an amatuer as well but i love taking photos its my zen

  • Michelle January 23, 2012 05:14 pm

    I'm just an amateur amateur, but I guess I am just the opposite. I refuse to buy anything unless I research and see what others think about things first. I don't regret ANY of my purchases. In October 2009 I bit off a chunk with the purchase of my Canon 7D that I absolutely love. Tinkered with it long enough to know I wanted to expand my equipment options. in April 2011 I bought my Canon 85mm 1.2 lens and LOVE IT. I really LOVE IT. But, sometimes the need arises to change my focal length. So, on the 15th of this month I bought my Canon 24-70mm 2.8 lens and a Canon 100-400 5.6 so that i have more options. But, with all this glass, I've out grown my Tamarac bag :(. I think I'd like to have one that rolls because it kills my back to carry that stuff around very long. Any suggestions?

  • Dorothy January 20, 2012 11:59 am

    Hi, I'm totally new to photography but have bought a camera bag from Sony that I love.
    Well I love the way it looks, haven't really used it yet as I've just taken my camera alone for walks.

  • David January 1, 2012 08:10 am

    So much easier to use...sorry smart phone trying Swype text

  • David January 1, 2012 08:08 am

    Lol, the blower brush was meant to be used as a stuck up you blew the air out then after brushing let go of the blub to pick up the dust.

    My cheap tripod was scorned by my teacher then she picks a real winner I took using it! Mostly I don't bother though. My monopod made a great walking stick and was useful for early morning shots on my early model digital. My latest cameras don't really need one...still a good stick though!

    Camera bags are a nightmare. I use non camera bags. My Kata was so uncomfortable I removed the padded insert and use it in the bottom of an old back pack. For day to day use I use a shoulder bag from the hiking a store. It takes either a D90 with lens only or more often my G2 with kit & telephoto lens. Plus spare battery and the odd filter.

    My new camera strap has sd card pockets....awesome

    So far the thing I haven't used at all is the lens baby for my G2....lovely gadget, just not had time to get into it. I got it so as I could save duty...know I will use it and like that I can user my Nikon mount lens with it.

    Otherwise my micro four thirds is making my D90 very redundant!!! Its do much resort to carry and
    Frankly less hassle to use!

  • jack October 10, 2011 03:55 pm

    one word. Monopod.

    Not sure exactly what this piece of equipment is for but it's not helping.

  • Phil September 18, 2011 12:27 am

    I got camera 'armor' for my Canon 1Ds cos I wanted it covered to protect its value. Big mistake. Sure it does the job by providing a cushion from bumps, dings and scrapes. Unfortunately, the cushion also made it very difficult to access the buttons, hence making the camera quite difficult to use. Needless to say, its just sitting in my cabinet waiting for someone I know whose birthday is coming up. Hope he appreciates my 'expensive' gift.

    As for bags, I quite enjoyed my first bag and it got more use than any other camera bag I've had since. At the time, I was obsessed with protecting my camera's value so it was in the bag all the time until I was going to use it. But I'm not such a noob now. I have my camera by my side all the time thanks to a Q-strap (very comfortable, I must add) and if I must bring extra lenses, I just stick them in foam sacks and stuff them into my backpack. FWIW I don't go out in extreme weather that much so not much need for extreme protection.

    As for filters, I can't say I have experience with the more expensive filters so I won't say cheap filters are a waste, especially when I compare them to 'going commando' (no UV filter) where I don't see much difference. Maybe my eyes aren't as trained as others but personally, going with cheap UVs or going commando doesn't matter much. I have to agree with the colored and special effects filters being a waste of money since I don't use mine, but if you enjoy using yours, good for you. I won't try to change your mind with the argument that there's software for that.

    I have a $70 tripod that has served me well. When the head got damaged, I got a new one for $20 and that has served me well too. It's one of those Chinese ripoffs of a Gitzo or Manfrotto and I may have been lucky to get a quality one cos I have no complaints about stability in wind although I do have issues with vibration damping. But as for stability and durability, I have no problem walking around with it over my shoulder with my camera attached to it.

    I started out looking for cheap lenses that got good reviews but ever since I got my 135/2L, I've been inkling to try out other L glass as well as those of Zeiss and Leica. But by no means am I discouraging anyone from searching for value in cheap glass, especially when you're just starting out. Part of the fun of photography is finding bargain glass that serves you well. May most of your shots come out the way you want and your mistakes be pleasant Ü

  • Christopher deCicestr June 11, 2011 11:52 pm

    I have a 'heavy' Velbon professional two stage leg tripod that I bought second hand for $60.00 that I am very happy with. When I had film cameras, the lenses I used, had the tripod mounts on the lens and they fitted onto the tripod. I have tried a large variety of tripods in the shops but was disappointed with them all. I ended up buying my second tripod for $5.00 in a sale at Office works and it has turned out to be perfectly suited for my nature studty close ups. As to a Camera Bag, it is what best suits your needs. My personal preference, when travelling, is for strong, light weight, foam lined and sectioned, lockable metal case that holds all of my lenses, spare cards, batteries, chargers, lenses, camera body and camcord recorder. This might seem like 'over kill' to some of you but having had equipment stolen in the past I'm not going to make it easy for the next person who 'desires' to have similar equipment to myself. If I'm not serious about what I'm doing then I fall back on a small HP digital camera that is very versatile and perfectly suited to cover those 'happy shot' moments.

  • Phil Steele April 22, 2011 06:01 am

    I agree on the cheap extra battery. Every non-Canon "bargain" battery I've purchased for my cameras has rapidly lost its ability to hold a charge for more than a few shots. Total waste of money. This is one area where it pays to buy the brand-name gear.

  • ArianaMurphy April 22, 2011 05:11 am

    Wow, great topic! I got a Lowepro sling-type bag when I bought my used D60 on ebay. Very sturdy, very safe, but weighs a ton even when empty. Also had no space for other stuff besides a body and one lens and wasn't very comfortable - or flattering! - across my very female form. Now I have a big tote bag with padded sides that I use all the time. It was about $10 at the discount store and looks like a regular purse. It holds my D60 with a 70-300mm zoom mounted, plus my 18-70, extra battery and misc stuff like a hat, lip balm, lens cleaner, etc. I don't go out for all-day shoots, I just walk around in parks and natural areas, so it works really well.

    I have a cheap tripod - Optex 255. I love it! It's lightweight - I can tuck it under my arm and carry it around without even noticing it. And my camera snaps in and out of it so fast, I can capture birds on the wing - literally! It''s small enough to fit in my luggage when I travel, and strong enough to double as a walking stick if I'm crossing a stream or climbing an embankment. The only downside is that it in portrait mode it can't support my zoom lens when extended to 300mm. In landscape mode it's fine. A really good sturdy tripod for around $65.

    Biggest mistake: cheap extra battery. It worked for a while, now my camera believes it doesn't fit.
    Most useful gadget: Wireless remote trigger.

  • Kat Landreth April 19, 2011 09:18 am

    @Allan Høgholm- I'm really glad they were able to clean up your sensor.

    That reminds me! I fully recommend the Lens Pen and brush for cleaning your lenses but they are not safe for cleaning your sensor.

  • Diane April 19, 2011 12:28 am

    aftermarket addon lenses to attach to existing lenses for macr, wide angle and telephoto extension.

    teleconverters if you are using a lens with f/ of greater than 2.8

  • Allan Høgholm April 16, 2011 08:13 am

    I can agree on the Lens Blower/Brush, it made grease on my censor, luckily the service center could remove it. I have never used it since :)

  • Reggie Doan April 9, 2011 03:25 am

    agree with you on "the first bag" and the "UV filter" .I did not feel good with my first camera bag.
    Nice topic.It's helped a lot

  • Don | Virginia Beach Wedding Photographer April 7, 2011 05:03 am

    I use AA Energizer rechargeable batteries for my Canon 580EX's and they're awesome. I can usually get 100's of flashes at full power before I need to reload 4 more.

  • BoxArt April 5, 2011 12:29 pm

    I have used the Domke canvas bags for years. I use the midsize F-3X model the most. I like that the canvas is heavy and durable but not padded and with a nice wide integrated shoulder strap. When not fully loaded the bag lays flatter to your side. I dislike the formed wall padded bags for carrying around while shooting, though I own a few, theyhave become trunk storage bags. I feel like I have a cardboard box hung over
    my shoulder with these stiff wall bags.

  • Fiona Forshaw April 5, 2011 08:21 am


    Look up Epiphane bags. Very easy to get lenses and other equipment in and out of and they are nice to look at. :) I love mine.

  • Niki Jones April 5, 2011 07:59 am

    I have a love / hate relationship with my camera bag. I bought a rucksack style one as I didn't want to look like I was carrying expensive equipment around but it's a pain to get anything out of it at speed.

  • Bill April 5, 2011 04:39 am

    Im still looking for a good bag to store and transport all my gear, but I do have a GREAT shoulder bag that will hold one camera with a lense along with another lense and a flash, also has several small compartments for lens cleaner, memory cards, batteries,note book, cell phone, water bottle, etc. The company is called Maxpedition and the model I have is the Jumbo Versipack (see link) http://www.maxpedition.com/store/pc/JUMBO-VERSIPACK-4p6.htm . I love it and would reccomend to anyone. It's heavy duty but it hangs well and rests comfortably on your hip. Also, to keep my gear from grinding around together i bought a pack of hand size microfiber towels from the auto parts store. I shove them in and around my gear. They work fine as padding and also come in handy in a pinch when my gear gets wet. They also come in handy when I have to set things out on the ground. When they get dirty I throw them in the wash.

  • wri7913 April 3, 2011 08:33 am

    My advice about camera bags is to figure out how you plan to use them. If you shoot a lot when you are traveling, invest in a good backpack style camera bag. its easier to tote through crowds and more comfortable when traveling around on foot. If you are a professional, a good pro bag to carry all your gear is essential. I do both so I have both styles of camera bags. When I'm travelling I don't need EVERYTHING with me, just my essentials (camera, 2 lens, flash and few other accessories).

    Advice about a tripod is dead on. I have been using a bogen tripod with an expensive head. I bought it back in 1991 for about $250. I still use it. I've had to replace a leg clasp thing and I bought one for $8 on ebay.

  • Rob April 3, 2011 04:02 am

    Late last year I decided to ditch all my cheep filters and get good ones. It hurt to get a bunch at once but now I add as I get lenses. The difference between a $10 and a $50 is huge. An even bigger difference was getting a good CP. $80 well spent. Hoya, Heliopan and B+W for me now.

    I bought one of those cheep folding frames for holding a flash. $10 I will never see. I harvested the cold shoes off it.

    I have two Kata bags - DR 467 and the DT 213 and I love them both. I will not go out without a bag but that is partially because I tend to shoot in crappy weather, climb on rocks, shoot in dust storms, etc. And the bottom line is when you are toting 4-5 lenses and 2-3 strobes, a bag is not optional.

    Had an inexpensive tripod and loved it. I now have a more expensive one with a Manfrotto ball head and I understand the difference.

    Small underpowered strobes without tilt and swivel are just about worthless.

    Live and learn. Plus I have a bunch of equipment to give to my son :)

  • Raleigh Wedding Photographers April 3, 2011 12:57 am

    Don't forget about cheap & quickly unreliable rechargeable batteries. I have several dozen Duracell 15 minute rechargeables. This seemed like an awesome purchase: fully recharged AA batteries in 15 minutes. But, the shelf life is horrible, so you have to recharge them just before you want to use them, and the batteries end of life way too soon which means your throwing away your money. Moral of the story, you won't live long living the fast life :)

  • Ann James Photography April 2, 2011 10:51 am

    The first case I ever bought was a definite waste of money.
    I've got a lot of money invested in my equipment & didn't feel like it was protected at all.
    I recently bought a Pelican case and LOVE it.
    When I'm shooting weddings, I always find an area maybe next to the DJ or somewhere out of the way to set my things down. But some people can't seem to keep an eye on their children....and the kids (on a sugar rush) run around my stuff -regardless of how I ask them not to- they think a camera case is something to play with or sit on.
    At least now, I have peace of mind that my investment is safe.
    It had the custom 'Pick & Punch' foam so you can place things where you want them. It's water-tight & fire resistant. Haha, not that I plan on getting near an open flame...but when I had the soft case, someone with a little too much to drink at a wedding spilled their food and drink all over my camera case.

  • Fiona Forshaw April 2, 2011 04:29 am

    Any ladies out there try the Epiphane Bag? I like it cause it looks like a purse BUT I also like it because of the easy access to my gear...fits my 7D witha lens on it plus my 70-200, 15-35, 50 mm and flash. I got sick of the back pack style...made it hard to switch lenses quickly.

  • Chris Moncus April 1, 2011 06:04 pm

    Cheap lenses. I have a stack i need to get rid of.

  • Mark April 1, 2011 11:30 am

    I was lucky, the bag came with my kit camera and lenses and was the right size and design to carry around. Then my kit grew, so I searched for a new bag, finding a backpack held it all and was just right on my photo club excursions. Then I tried the Rapid Strap and loved it! But using it with my backpack just doesn't work, so now I am on my third search for a bag that works with the new sling. I've been using one of those beltpacks for hikers with the central compartment (big enough for flash, Sigma 17-70, and Lensbaby) and two water bottle pockets, which I use one for my extension tubes (no money for macro lens yet) and my 50mm 1.4 and my 1.4 and 2x extenders in the other. This works ok, but it's really not made for camera gear, there's no dividers to keep what's in the middle from constantly banging around together, but I think a belt or fanny pack based system will work best with the Rapid Strap. (Love it, not giving it up!)

    The most useless thing I have bought was cheap lens tissue which left as much "dust" on the lens as regular tissue paper! Get REAL lens tissue at a photo store, not the packaged "lens tissue" at Walmart!

  • Tim Wilson April 1, 2011 03:49 am

    Bags are one of things you are generally going to have a few of...as you figure out your shooting style, and as you accumlate more equipment. I have a large travel bag that holds all my equipment (as of right now..lol) that I use when I need to transport everything for a shoot, and a lowepro slingshot for when I will be walking around & only need to cary a few items...
    I did the cheap tripod route as most newbie' do, didnt take long to get a manfrotto 055xb pro..though..money well spent.
    UV filters are usefull if you are one of those that doesnt like to use the lens hood..and as far as image softness, yes the cheap ones will degrade image quality, but then again so will a cheap lens...they are cheap for a reason...if you are serious about your images then buy the best quality lens you can afford...your sanity will thank you..(been there done that)

  • Matt Parlane March 31, 2011 04:26 pm

    I definitely agree with the top 5. The camera bag I got with my camera usually stores the extra photo junk i hardly use. I might have to disagree with the bean bag though, I find taking pictures out of my car window on trips is handy to hide from wildlife and a bean bag works great to keep my camera sturdy. Although I wouldn't use it anywhere else.

  • Chris March 31, 2011 12:00 pm

    Well I have to agree my mini tripods and cheap tripod I don't use. My cheap UV filter doesn't do anything but soften up my photos. My underwater camera is something I don't use as well as my lomography fish eye camera. I also don't use my hardware light for portraits.

  • karen March 31, 2011 07:34 am

    @Kat - yeah I was drooling at the Kelly Moore green bag- $100 nzd ($60us) just to ship the bag here to New Zealand! Etsy has quite a few cool bags for camera chicks- funky and original!

  • Kat Landreth March 30, 2011 03:25 pm

    @Karen- I REALLY want a camera bag that looks/acts like a handbag. I've been drooling over the Kelly Moore bags but I can't afford one right now. Some day. And I owe my old canon 28-135 an apology! It's no L lens but it's better than I gave it credit for.

    @augie- You're my new hero!

  • Elyse March 30, 2011 01:29 pm

    odai, yes there is likely an adapter for your flash. I have a heavy duty Gorillapod and keep it for my extra Vivitar flash. At least I won my mostly unused monopod at an event.
    After several bag purchases, including the uncomfortable first one, I am loving the Lowepro Passport Sling, which looks like a regular shoulderbag. It doesn't fit the battery grip but I can get my 7D with my 24-70mm in there and if I open the back zip, can squeeze my iPad in as well. If I need to take my flashes and a bounce, I have a 24-can Thermos tote, which looks relatively inconspicuous and slings over one shoulder. Each of my flashes fits into a padded cooler/lunchpack fanny pack with a zippered extra compartment for the battery charger and extra batteries.

  • karen March 30, 2011 12:09 pm

    Best purchase I made was an epiphanie camera/handbag- finally I can walk through town with my wallet and camera and not feeling like a tourist, and feels great. Originally I bought a camera backpack, only to find it's too heavy and painful to wear.. I wanted to carry around a lot of gear I just wouldn't even use -_- I guess I went too hardcore, too soon, as I know these bags would get great use from some people.
    Cheers for the uv tip! Might try taking my cheap one off and compare. Might owe my sigma an apology .

  • Augie March 30, 2011 11:40 am

    I don't have many regrets but I buy most of my gear at thrift stores and yard sales. Not so much lenses but accessory stuff. I got a Manfrotto tripod 3001BPRO with a ball head for $5 (yes, you read that right...five clams!), about 6 camera bags but none more than $3, numerous straps, flashes, filters, etc. Shopping this way allows me to save for good glass. And, I'm just cheap!

  • Odai March 29, 2011 08:32 pm

    I lost the little piece between my Gorillapod that holds the ballhead in place pretty much after a month I bought it. Manage to use it a couple of times, did not find it too useful for a DSLR, but could work nicely with a 4/3 for sure.

    But I do like the idea of using the gorillapod as stand/grip for for a flash. Is there a certain type of plate to hold a flash on a tripod or is it all the way ducktape action?

    Completely agree with the UV filters. The cheap ones are a complete disaster. I had one that gave out these horrible green blops if there was any bright lights what so ever. I always make sure to remove my UV filter when I shoot indoors, but tbh I rarely have one on unless Im travelling.

  • Jared Lawson March 29, 2011 03:51 pm

    I love how my first camera kit came with that lens blower, and one of the cheapest mini tripods you could imagine.

    Do you remember those little tripods with the legs made of hard plastic ball looking things?

  • Lori March 28, 2011 04:50 am

    I have a bean bag and have never used it. I bought a Lowerpro bag with my first Canon, I really like it, but with all my "stuff" is heavy. Recently I bought a new Canon 50D- I didn't want to tote my heavy bag all the time so I started looking for a smaller bag, I didn't want to spend lots. I finally found a neoprene bag designed for game cameras. It isn't very big, but protects my camera nicely.

  • Steven March 27, 2011 12:59 pm

    Wow agreed, man I just bought a cheap UV filter for my Nikon 70-200 vr lens! What a waste of money. I'm thinking about slapping myself, but that would hurt. When I bought it I kinda knew I was throwing money away, but after using it geeezzzz what a waste. When I bought my first camera a Nikon FM when I was 18 they had a nice effect on the old film cameras for a reasonablr price, but not as nice with these digital jobs. I would have to spend at least $250 on a UV filter for the above mentioned lens. Also agreed on the tripod and camera bag, kinda holding out on these until I have enough cheese saved up. A lesson learned from my FM days.

  • Dawn Pernso March 27, 2011 08:46 am

    Another item I might add to your list of photographic items bought but never used is a gorillapod - taken mine out with me a few times but never found the right pole,post or tree branch to wrap it around. I'm donating it to my camera club to give away or sell at their annual exhibition. Couldn't agree more with you about getting a quality, i.e. reliable, tripod.

  • rogue83 March 27, 2011 04:01 am

    Gorilla Pod.....it seemed so cool at the time, now, I don't know where it is.....and I've never even used it!

  • Michael Stagg | Maikeru Foto March 26, 2011 11:53 pm

    I think Chris has the right outlook. It's all relative, right? If you buy something and use it then it's not a waste; if you don't use it, it is. Pretty simple.

  • Chris March 26, 2011 09:50 pm

    I think you could argue that pretty much everything is a waste of money. you could argue that the cheaper camera bodies are a waste because they're not built to last, the more expensive ones don't produce significantly better images, you could argue against cheap lenses and against expensive lenses in the same way, much as you have against cheap tripods, which can work fine if you're not wanting to waste money on an expensive one for occasional use, personally I find long lenses to be a waste of money, but that's because I never use them. Same with a slow lens, there's no place for anything slower than f2.8 in my bag. so anything else would be a waste of money.

    I guess it all depends what you're going to do with what you're using the stuff for.

  • Mark March 26, 2011 07:28 am

    The only real mistakes I made were a couple of cheap UV filters that are now collecting dust and an old Tamron 200-400mm lens that did OK but the focus motor was slow and noisy and the bokah of the lens was very "sharp" and unattractive. I bought a Canon backpack same time I ordered my Canon XSi and love it. It holds my camera with one L series lens attached (EF 100-400mm) and has room for my other L series lens(EF 24-70mm) plus a 1.4x teleconverter and a Sigma macro lens and three batteries, notebook and pen, cable release, lens pen, micro fiber cloths, camera owners manual, release forms, polarizer filters, and more. Totals out about 15 pounds and I have hiked with it for about 7 miles without too much pain. I think this was a really good buy for me, but I am mostly in the woods with this kit. It might not work for other types of photography as well.

  • bryan March 26, 2011 02:47 am

    i made the camera bag mistake

  • Carl March 25, 2011 06:26 pm

    I love my beanbag, bough one of the biggest I could find and use it when I have the Sigmonster on. At 6kg you need something more than a jacket on the window or in the hide. I suppose a Wimberley head would be nice at 300x the price;-)

  • Lewis March 25, 2011 12:49 pm

    I have wasted money on gimmick filters that I hardly use like star burst, fog, center spot, etc. I guess that would be the equivialant of buying photoshop plugins today.

  • Mirella March 25, 2011 11:06 am

    i use metal cases for my equipment 4 cases in all,i insert foam blocks and cut out the shapes cameras, lens etc, gear is well protected as cases are very sturdy, just cant throw them over your shoulder on a away from home shoot i take 1 sometimes 2 cases, they work for me

  • Mirella March 25, 2011 11:02 am


  • Christine March 25, 2011 10:21 am

    I have purchased several different bags and backpacks the last few years and none ever made me happy. Too cumbersome. The backpack is great for bringing on the plane but when I am out shooting its a pain. I purchased a shootsac based on a friends recommendation. It is my favorite! 6 pockets to hold my lenses all right at my hip. It has a stylish messenger bag look. You can choose your own design. It does not look like a camera bag at all so I feel safe when I am traveling. I highly recommend this bag. It is more expensive then some camera bags but considering I use this one and the others are piled up in the attic it was my best investment. shootsac.com

  • Ali March 25, 2011 08:03 am

    really a nice idea for a post Kat!
    1- Gorillapod: fell in love with this thing and ordered one SLR size from across the world (am an Iraninan, asked a friend traveling to US!) and got it after 2 months!
    Never used it really!! it just doesn't feel useful. Every time you mount it on your camera, you have to turn either body or tripod and you can't do it smoothly thus damaging the screw on the body(IMO). Beautiful as decoration though

    2- I agree on UV and color filters

    3- lighting accessory kit for speedlite: I bought a whole kit (80$) including soft boxes, gels,snoots, bulb,.... for my 580EXII but couldn't even use them once for test because they were simply garbage!

  • zach March 25, 2011 07:45 am

    my 18-200 nikkor was probably my most wasteful purchase. Can't seem to sell the thing either. Such a boring lens, slow autofocus, crap max aperture, soft. i bought it the same time i bought my 50mm f1.4, needless to say, the 50 got a WHOLE lot more use than that 18-200.

    my nice Hoya HD UV filter also gets no love. my lens hood on my 24-70 f2.8 has always done the trick, and even though they say the HD filters are easy to clean, i had a bugger of a time cleaning a thumbprint off mine, and just gave up.

    anyone want to buy a filter or lens?? ;)

  • nikonman84 March 25, 2011 06:21 am

    I agree as well on the little blower brush, I'd also say "Do not waste your money on a "Rocket blower either."
    Instead ,go to your local pharmacy and buy one of these " A rectal syringe" @ about $10 bucks. It works amazingly well. Just dont tell anyone what its really for. Or leave around the bathroom if someone is enticed to use it for its intended purpose LOL.

  • Kat Landreth March 25, 2011 06:11 am

    @ irispatch - I had no idea you were supposed totake off the bristles before you use the blower. Maybe it's not completely useless after all. Thanks!

  • Virginia Beach Wedding Photographer March 25, 2011 05:05 am

    I use medium priced UV filters and replace them every year. I have had a filter smashed only once, which saved my 24mm lens!

  • Warren Lyons March 25, 2011 04:48 am

    I beg to differ about cheap tripods. I have a Targus 60" model that weighs about three pounds and I can throw over my shoulder. It isn't perfect, but it is better than none at all. I use it with my canon sx30is for landscape and foliage photography. The sx30 has a two second timed shutter setting; perfect for this camera/tripod combination as there is no movement at all as the image is taken. If I get more serious and need something to support a heavly DSLR/telephoto combination, I have a folding mountain bike repair stand which I adapted to screw into the camera bottom

  • irispatch March 25, 2011 04:27 am

    So right on all of these things. I use my cheap tripod now to hold a tube of water with a branch of flowers or leaves, for use when photographing birds, the branch is just a blur of color in my backgrounds.
    The blower brush actually the bristle head is removable so that you can use the blower, it is not inteded to be used as a blower with the bristle head attached. Use the bristles to brush off sand, and dust from around the buttons and thumb wheels only.
    I still use my first DSLR bag when going out with just a body and one lens. The other two bags that I bought just did not hold things as well as I had hoped. I now have a Think Tank Retrospective 20 now that is perfect for what I use now. Though actually my real first bag is still with my SLR film camera.

    After seeing a display at Corning demonstrating the difference between window glass and opticlal glass I have alwas sought out the best quality optical glass filters. For really special shots that I want to be a s sharp as can be I take them off anyway.

  • JD Black March 25, 2011 03:16 am

    Gorillapods are not made to hold a 5 lb. DSLR and telephoto lens combo. Honestly, what did you expect? I have 2 Gorillapods with swivel heads that attach my Canon 580EX IIs with Pocket Wizards to trees, fence posts, balcony railings and/or just standing alone on their funny little legs. I love them. Lay off the Gorillapods if you expect them to act as a full-sized tripod.

  • Mindless March 25, 2011 02:57 am

    @Rick, I get mine around 5-6 years ago and I would die without it... I've almost done in 2009 at Rome during the World Aquatic Championships when I had a little accident during an anthem and broke the monopod. I was using it broken as long as I was able to buy a new one (ASAP). It depends on what you are shooting... for sports it is essential if you have big lense.

  • Rick March 25, 2011 02:21 am

    I bought a monopod a couple of years ago, I feel they are a complete waste of money.

  • Hgumula March 25, 2011 02:00 am

    Cheap Tripods all the way - awful. I bought 2 before I learned.

  • Phil Steele March 25, 2011 01:45 am

    Radio Triggers - Following up on the earlier comments about PocketWizard and cheaper triggers. PW have long been the industry standard for good reasons, but the newer generations of Hong Kong triggers are WAY better than the earlier generations and worth a look.

    In fact, I now get much better performance from the low-budget triggers like the Yongnuo RF-602, the Cactus V5, and the Phottix Strato, than I do from my PocketWizards! This is probably because the newer triggers operate in a frequency range less prone to radio interference from my Canon flashes.

    Suffice it to say, that I have a full set of PocketWizards that cost me many many hundreds of dollars, and yet what I carry in my camera bag is usually one of the newer Hong Kong triggers that cost me one tenth as much. That fact pretty much says it all.

    If you're into this kind of gear, I have video reviews of these triggers on my website. I don't want to sound spammy by putting the URL here, but if you click my name above you can check it out if you like.

  • Pat Grover March 24, 2011 01:38 pm

    When I purchased my Nikon D700 last fall I looked at every bag I could find. Wasn't happy with any of them in that there just wasn't much real protection. I needed something that I could use everyday as well as take on the airlines. My solution turned out to be a Remington Amo Case in Wal-mart of all places. It is a very hard plastic and has a tray which I use for my memory cards, etc. Cost is right around $15.00. It can be locked as it has holes for a small lock to fit it. Otherwise, it has a solid click and snap closure. For the plane trip I did use foam padding, but for everyday use I wrap my camera in a towel, which doubles for moisture wicking. I have since purchased additional of the same case to store my other lenses in when not in use. Might not be fancy, but they work great for me. (Fleet Farm in Wisconsin also sells similar cases, but they do not have a tray.)
    As far as the UV lens filter - I lucked out. On my first trip with my camera to the Oregon Coast, I tripped and fell right on my new camera. Yes, the filter cracked, but my camera and lens were fine. My ego, not so much.
    May You All Find Million Dollar Shots!

  • Kat Landreth March 24, 2011 06:13 am

    @ Michael Stagg | Maikeru Foto- My advice is to wait 'til you have the DSLR. Since you won't know what lenses and other gear you'll end up using at first. The weight/size difference between an advanced compact and a DSLR might throw you for a loop too. Get the camera first, then give it at least a couple months to decide what you really need.

    @ Jason St. Petersburg Photographer- The rocket blower is clunky, I'll give you that! That's why I never leave home w/out my lens pen. At least when I have my camera with me. I don't take it out to dinner or anything. That would be silly.

  • Celesta March 24, 2011 05:51 am

    I generally agree with these tips except for the tripod part. Through a trial and error method I ended up owning two tripods, both from Davis & Sanford. One is a classic photography tripod with a ball head, $60, and one is for digital video, with X12 fluid head, $100. I honestly could not wish for a better tripod than my $100 one. It is light and portable (I am a woman of average build, can carry it on my shoulder for a day trip), compact, goes low for macro and low angle, very sturdy, and the fluid head with three levels is great for videography. Probably the only thing I would wish for would be a pistol grip, just as a personal preference, but I am not sure there is such thing as a fluid head with a pistol grip.

    Finding a good bag is a headache. I went through ~many~, and so far the best scenario for me is to keep a photo insert such as Tenba into a regular (non-photography) messenger-style bag. I hate backpacks. I was eyeballing sling bags for a long time, but they still seem to have too much of a profile for me. I need a relatively flat and discreet bag.

    The most useful camera accessories I got: remote control, additional batteries, Tenba camera insert and the $100 fluid head tripod.

  • Michael Stagg | Maikeru Foto March 23, 2011 02:46 pm

    I was going to shell out big bucks for a camera bag as well but figured since it's just an advanced compact (Canon G12) what's the point. Instead I bought a Lowepro Santiago 30 - great for holding the camera and memory cards - and drop that in an Ogio messenger I already own. Now I can carry my camera, the limited gear I have and my Netbook easily.

    As for tripods, I bought an inexpensive Targus tripod for $30 from Wal-mart. Again, my reasoning was I didn't need an expensive tripod because the G12 isn't all that heavy so why bother. Add to that a LensPen set and I'm pretty much covered until I step up to a DSLR.

    I've been eyeballing a Lowepro Sling bag but think that may be overkill for just a G12. The upside would be that once I get a DSLR I wouldn't have to worry about getting a bag for it. What do you guys think?

  • Gillian March 23, 2011 01:12 pm

    Don't get me started on camera bags I bought a Lowe pro but it looked like a camera bag so I returned it. Then I bought a Jill-e small camera bag (red leather) it looks very nice but it's too bulky to carry around. Then I bought a softer less bulky bag for traveling around Japan recently but after a couple of hours my shoulders hurt. Now I don't know what to buy

    I also want to buy a tripod but I'm so confused by all the options. I just want a recommendation for a good tripod and the right Ballhead. Help!!!
    I don't have super heavy lenses. I like taking closeup shots

  • Rich Copley March 23, 2011 10:58 am

    Amen @ Marc Mason! I have made almost every mistake on this list (and have two cheapo broken tripods in my basement to prove it). But my biggest waste of money was a cheap 70-300 mm, f 4-5.6 lens I bought right after getting my first DSLR. Frustrated me every time I used it with its softness, even in ideal conditions. I have since bought a Tamron 70-200, f 2.8 that is fantastic (can't really justify the cost of the comparable Nikkor at this point in my ventures) but I doubt I can even get $100 on ebay for that fuzzy 70-300 in my closet.

    On the bag front, I love my Crumpler 7 Million Home so much I am thinking of buying a second one.

  • ScottC March 23, 2011 06:36 am

    Could not agree more on the 5 listed here. Never tried the bean bag, but low end cleaning equip and cheap UV filters, tripods, and bags never work out.

    Camera bags are more expensive than great quality UV filters and are comparable in costs to good quality tripods. Think about the bag really hard, you'll be carrying it all day long. I have 3 (shoulder, street, and serious outdoors) and all were well selected. I'd recommend the ThinkTank Street Walker to anyone working in a crowded urban environment.

    I'd watch out for flash units as well, very dissappointed in my "high end" aftermarket version and wish I'd spent more on one designed for my camera model.The one I have is not fully functional when paired with my camera.

    One last point, a battery grip really is worth the additional cost. Once you get used to one you'll always have it handy.


  • Mark von Kanel March 23, 2011 04:28 am

    Try the tiffen HT ultraclear filter intead of a UV, v good doesnt soften the immage but guess what, cheap they aint!!


  • Conor March 23, 2011 01:21 am

    Love my Canon camera backpack. Got it for 40 bucks on Amazon (originally 80 at Best Buy stores).

    Love my cheap 30 dollar tripod. It hasn't broken after a year of use, and being dropped here and there. It isn't perfect, but I don't use tripods all the time, so I had no need for a 100 dollar one.

    The biggest waste of my money was a second hand Canon 55-250mm lens. I never use it.

  • rubenrubert March 22, 2011 08:46 pm

    yes that is very correct . Those are really wastage of money

  • GradyPhilpott March 22, 2011 12:21 pm

    Here in the great southwest, anything made of glass need protection from the grit in the air. Filters are a lot less expensive to replace than lenses.

    All you need to do is look at someone's windshield here that is more than a few years old and you'll see the damage that just the wind can do.

    Certainly, the windshield gets worse beating, but the wind here can carry small pebbles and one that hits your lens will leave you with a nasty ding.

    It's just not worth the price of even a cheap lens.

  • Mars March 22, 2011 09:48 am

    I have a sunpak 6000pg tripod and it was only about 50 USD. And about the first camera bag. I got a lowepro sling bag and that it pretty much all I need now because it has enough space for my DSLR&lens plus a few other lenses, charger, hotshoe flash, I even carry my external harddrive around in there and still have space for more lenses if I get the individual protecction for extra lenses. I only bought that bag cause it doesn't look like a camera bag and that is all I need since I travel to places with high crime rates and I don't want to get my gear stolen.

  • T.I.Photo March 22, 2011 05:51 am

    I completely agree about not buying the first camera bag you see. I grabbed on right after getting my camera and I can't stand using it any more. I got it to fit my camera and kit lens, which it does just fine, but now it won't fit my new lenses or any of my accessories. I can pretty much only use it with one specific lens and no extra gear.

  • Jason St. Petersburg Photographer March 22, 2011 05:31 am

    Ha, first off I have that exact same camera bag (in blue) that is in the trash can! I like it a lot for when I go out with just one or two lenses.

    I agree, I tell all my photography students to just toss away all those UV filters Best Buy upsold them on. If you are often walking through thorn bushes with your camera held in front of you, maybe they would then be useful, otherwise, how are you going to ever scratch the front of your lens just walking around? Then in your bag always put the lens cap back on.

    The blower-brush combo is a bit weak, but if you are using a small camera bag, a rocket blower may not fit, so better that than nothing.

  • Kat Landreth March 21, 2011 02:53 pm

    @ jonathan g- UV filters are different than polarizing filters. For UV filters B+W, Hoya, and Heliopan are highly recommended by the guys I listen to, the-digital-picture.com and kenrockwell.com - I listen to DPS too but I don't know what brand Darren recommends.

    I did not like my Hoya UV filter- I felt it made me pictures softer and made purple fringing more pronounced. I could have just had a bum copy though.

    I've used Heliopan polarizing filters and ND filters and I think they're great , but I haven't used the UV's. I pretty much gave up on UV filters.

    I can't speak for B+W but Bryan Carnathan of the-digital-picture.com recommends them so I'm sure they're great.

  • Rolling Stone March 21, 2011 02:37 pm

    I did the camera bag and UV filter mistakes. Live and learn. I don't get the cheap tripod thing though. I'm sure there are some really bad ones out there. I got mine at Walmart for $50. Light and sturdy. Maybe it's an accident waiting to happen, but has treated me well for 7yrs. with out problems.

  • Jonathan G March 21, 2011 01:46 pm

    So what constitutes a not cheap UV polarizer? At what price point and what manufacturer? Thanks for the guidance

  • Kat Landreth March 21, 2011 11:23 am

    Seems like you're all pretty split about the blower brush. Either you love it or you hate it. Maybe I'll start using mine for my keyboard. At least it won't end up in the trash that way. (The one I bought for this photo shoot doesn't seem to be shedding like my first one did. The blower still doesn't do anything.)

    @marc manson- I was just talking to my photography professor about tripods yesterday. He recommends the 055 Manfrotto series. I don't know what your budget is, but the series ranges from $100 to $200 US. I have the Manfrotto 190CXPro4. More expensive but it's perfect for me and I LOVE it. Not to be spammy, but I wrote an article at PareAndFocus.com about choosing a tripod if you're interested.

    @Graham-That is an awesome idea! I might cut up a yoga mat before I fly next time to give my gear some extra cushion!

  • Lizzy March 21, 2011 04:07 am

    You know whats funny, I read this yesturday and thought 'My cheap Tri-Pod works just fine.' Then later in the evening I went out too take some shots of the moon in my backyard and guess what! My tri-pod could not stay tilted at the sky, it kept giving out under the weight of my lens. Guess I'll be investing in a better one!

  • Guillermo de la Maza March 20, 2011 08:00 pm

    When I bought my first DSLR, the salesman got me into buying a small little Quantaray bag to hold my camera and lenses. At first, I was pretty unsure if it would be of much use to me but nowadays I never get to leave home without it. It carries my DSLR and sometimes one SLR 35mm body, 4 lenses and a couple of flashes. The thing is tiny but really is capable of holding a ton.

    Also, it has proved to be well-built. I highly recommend buying one.

  • Marc Mason March 20, 2011 02:39 pm

    Cheap soft lenses! Because when you buy them you will be frustrated that you don't have the clarity the more expensive lens would have given you. Do your research before you buy and if you can't afford the good lens, then SAVE until you can. I am experiencing this first hand and have had mild buyers remorse about it!

    @Kat: Good article! What decently priced tripod would you have recommended?

  • Richard Anthony Morris March 20, 2011 05:36 am

    I've got to say my least favourite piece of equipment is eye cup on my Canon. Silly as it sounds but it always come loose.

  • Isoterica March 20, 2011 04:45 am

    The worst piece of equipment that I ever purchased was a Gorillapod so that I could shoot macro images yet keep my camera still and low to the ground [think flowers and insects]. What I got was a piece of gear that, even though I purchased the right size for the weight of my camera plus my heaviest lens and flash, is a tripod that does not stay in position like it should, has tipped my camera forward multiple times dumping it on its lens [hooray for a lens hood] and is now collecting dust because it was too expensive to throw out. I've not gotten one photo while using it so now I prop the camera with dependably solid things [like the ground itself, my opposite arm or a suitably sized rock] while I lay on my side or belly snagging nature at its finest without destroying my camera doing it. I tend to shuffle through camera bags too but that is because my gear is growing. Mind you the large bags are only useful [I speak of the hobbyist not the pros that need to have a lot of gear on site] if you are travelling. Lugging it around with ALL your treasures inside for several hours leads to a backache and increasingly poorer images or lack of motivation as far as digging out a new lens or flash every time you actually need one. I use my large Canon bag for in house storage and on rare occasion, when I don't have time to pack one of my smaller bags, as a carry-all that I leave in the car after picking through what I need on site. Of course one.. perfect camera bag would be nice. If not.. a caddy would do. Hey, my camera gear is a lot lighter than golf clubs.

  • Matt March 20, 2011 04:24 am

    Tripods always break after heavy use. I get through at least one a year and I use Gitzo and they cost heaps of dosh.
    UV's are a must but must be kept clean and don't buy cheapo ones.

    Beanbags! Never used one except when I was 4 at playschool to throw at things

    Bags Only ever use Pelicans, again not cheap but worth every penny

    Blower brushes need to again invest in some serious cleaning gear. Those ones that come free with rice crispies (like the one shown) or whatever are totally naff and as you say will collect grime, umphgar and gore

  • GradyPhilpott March 20, 2011 03:34 am

    I actually like the little blower brush. It seems to do the trick for me and I haven't noticed any stray bristles. It fits in my little bag with no problem. I'm not saying it's all people need for their cleaning needs, but there's a place for them--like my bag.

    The first bag I bought for my first DSLR has worked out really well, although if I ever need to take all my gear, I'll need a bigger one, but for almost all purposes my Tamrac 5502 does quite well.

    I added a external pouch recently to accommodate my speedlight. I can carry my D7000 or D3000 with a lens attached and 1-2 extra lenses, not to mention extra batteries, blower/brush, extra cards, pens, soft box, flash-diffusers, etc.

    Unless you really make a blunder of a choice for a camera bag, it's better to look at your first as a bag to carry only the few items you may need for a shoot when you don't need tons of gear.

    I agree about cheap filters, but I've got a couple as back-ups. I use my lens cap when I'm not actually shooting, but the extra protection provided by a filter for my lens is for better peace of mind and for cutting UV light, of course. A lens hood isn't practical for every situation. The added length can get in the way in tight quarters and they can cause vignetting.

    I say buy a good-enough tripod. Most people don't even need one. My Manfrotto 7302YB and my Ultra-Pod II are all I need. I've used both once, but they're there when I need them.

    Bean-bag? I wouldn't buy one unless I had a direct application for one and I haven't so far.

    I think it's best to tell people to avoid knee-jerk purchases and always try to buy the best tools for the job under any given circumstances.

  • Jan March 20, 2011 02:31 am

    Cheap tripods. I can relate to that :-) The moment I started reading point #4 I said to myself .. That's me!

    I've been guilty of buying cheap tripods ... 3 damaged tripods later I wised up, and got myself a better quality tripod (and one that cost more than all 3 put together!)

  • Peter Garner March 19, 2011 10:54 pm

    @Kat Landreth, @Daniela Brown- Great idea! Esp. when you’re traveling since you can buy a bag of rice when you get there, rather than packing the extra weight.

    Yeah! And if you're flying and your baggage is overweight you can always cook and eat the contents :-) Try doing that with a commercial beanbag!

  • Peter Garner March 19, 2011 10:51 pm

    I agree about the cheap tripods, and there's nothing worse than seeing your telephoto/zoom lens visibly sag when your camera's mounted on it! And as for the same rig in a high wind? Talk about vibration!

    However, if you don't want to/can't afford a decent tripod, why not use a good monopod with a ball 'n socket head? This can achieve 90% of what a tripod achieves, and if you need it really "steady" you can carry a brace of cheap racing bicyclist toe straps which can quickly fasten your mono' to the nearest tree/fence/lamppost. Works for me!

  • Graham March 19, 2011 10:00 pm

    After my Lowepro Slingshot bit the dust I had my eye on a Domke F2. In the end I decided to make my own bag. Bought a nice roomy messenger bag. Padded it out with compartments using a cut up yoga mat which I covered with an old fleece top. Perfect.

  • .daniel March 19, 2011 04:32 pm

    buy vr, is, os (or whatever they are calles) and forget the 3pod!

  • Alan March 19, 2011 11:02 am

    I use a microfiber cloth in a zip lock glad bag instead of a dedicated bean bag. Works fine and any time I've had something on my UV filter I want to wipe off, I have access to a microfiber cloth instead of a sweaty tshirt. Bonus

  • Dany March 19, 2011 10:20 am

    After many years and many camera bags, I am so happy with my kata 465. It's been around south east asia, carry on luggage, slung in the back of buses and cars and boats and still looks news. It's very comfy, and is actually half camera bag half backpack, which means I can still carry non camera stuff around with me. It also fits a DSLR body with battery grip and three lenses (all zoom and primes). Also, its comfy for me (a girl with boobs, many bags just aren't comfy), and my boyfriend loves his too!
    Sorry for the long kata love speech, it's just so nice to have finally found "the" bag!
    I also have a Black Rapids R strap which is awesome because incan wear it across my body, which keeps the camera safe, and still swing it up to take pics without adjusting the strap. And yes, it was worth the $50, and no, I don't want a Ferrari ;o)

  • Robert March 19, 2011 10:01 am

    I totally agree with the photo bag situation. I've wasted too much money on cheap, useless photo bags that don't live up to my expectations. With the addition of a new lens, well, I need a bigger bad, now. Aargh! I have shopped around and found a pretty efficient and very useful photo bag from www.DeviantArt.com. Their DeviantArt Pro Camera Bag is state of the art and very functional. I take it everywhere! Plenty of room and a strap to attach a tripod to. For $75, a little steep on a tight budget, but well worth it.

  • Andy Mills March 19, 2011 09:28 am

    @Erik The "Chinese" radio triggers have imporved immensely with the later releases. I have both older types and the newer ones, and they are certainly usable. Obviously not as good as Pocket Wizards, but at a fraction of the cost...

    As for the blower brush - mine doesn't shed bristles. I use it to remove larger debris/dust/sand from the lens and body before using other and better methods of cleaning.

  • Holly Baumann Photography March 19, 2011 09:03 am

    Best camera bags: Tenba Roadie II and the Kelly Moore Classic. First one for travel (roller) and second one for chicks that click! :)

  • chew March 19, 2011 07:07 am

    You are too right with the brush and the bag.

  • Matt March 19, 2011 06:46 am

    You should have titled this article "5 specific photography items I bought but was not satisfied with." Because that's what this article is. It seems to me, you need to start learning to "try before you buy".

  • Deirdre March 19, 2011 06:33 am

    I appreciate your articles here, Kat. It's always refreshing to see something other than "buy more gear, buy more gear, buy more gear." I have a similar bag to your Lenscoat bag for my D40, and I love it so much. I need a new one for my D90 as it is now slightly small. I bought a funky camera strap that is longer than the one my camera came with and much more "me," which works great with a bag like that. I never take my camera off -- it's like an accessory. I love the idea of those padded lens bags, too.

  • Kat Landreth March 19, 2011 06:28 am

    @Colleen- Rough luck about your tripods but at least your blower brush doesn't make your lens look like a woolly mammoth ;)

    @Daniela Brown- Great idea! Esp. when you're traveling since you can buy a bag of rice when you get there, rather than packing the extra weight.

    @fortunato_uno- Is the shaving kit padded at all? I would love to try that out!

    @Rick- Good point. I've never used a colored filter on my digital camera. Are they better for film color correction?

    @Melissa- I wouldn't want to fall and land on my gear, or have somebody step on it. The LensCoat camera cover and the lens bag don't have the same kind/amount of padding as a camera bag. But, I've banged my gear around quite a bit in airports, on trains, and on camping trips and it's survived so far. A bubble wrap bag would make your gear more clutz/kid proof and I've heard other ppl suggest padded lunch bags to protect gear too.

    @c- Love the makeup bag idea. I store spare electrical cords and power adapters in a makeup bag at home. I don't know why but I always have a ton of extra bags!

    @killian- I can really see how they would be handy. I just can't believe I spent $8 (+shipping!) on a bag of plastic pellets b/c I thought I NEEDED one :(

    @Erik- I guess there are some things you just have to pay up for. I'll add pocket wizard knock offs to my "do not buy list". Thanks!

    @A.Barlow- Please, I beg of you, tell me the name of that tripod!

  • Leo Mangubat March 19, 2011 06:26 am

    Hahaha! I am not alone after all! I also have that brush/blower which I really hate! It just makes your camera even more dirty! The blower...... you cannot feel the air because the bristtles are blocking it. I'm just using it to clean the dusts off the keyboards of my computer.

  • John March 19, 2011 06:12 am

    My tripod weighs a ton and it's not heavy enough on windy days @ 400mm. I hang a cinderblock under it when I'm close to my home or car and taking long shots

  • Shotslot March 19, 2011 06:06 am

    I have a £10 tripod that weighs about a kilo, when they break I chuck 'em away, if I lose 'em I don't care, I use a tripod so rarely it's not worth paying any more. I reckon a lot of camera kit (£50 for a strap? - it's a piece of webbing!) is overpriced, but some things (like good lenses) you just can't skimp on. I think too many photographers are posers who can't afford a Ferrari...or don't pay enough tax...sticking a designer badge on something doesn't make it worth any more than the same item made on the same Chinese production line but unbadged.

  • Jason March 19, 2011 05:19 am

    A cheap teleconverter.

    In my experience most people start out with a 70-300 of fair quality when they want to get something longer than their kit lens, then at some point find that they'd like even more reach.

    Enter the $100 generic teleconverter. On a lens of marginal quality, the resulting image is just mush, no detail at all. On a phenomenal lens, that cheap teleconverter can turn a multi-thousand dollar lens into little more than the cheapest kit lens.

    A good teleconverter is a great tool in a pinch, a cheap one is just money wasted.

  • A.Barlow March 19, 2011 04:57 am

    I've been lucky I think. I have a Tam camera backpack, cost like $90, and I love it! I also have a cheap $69 tri-pod. It's tall enough for me, super sturdy, stays clean easily, doesn't fill with water when beach waves splash its legs, and came with a decent head. Oh yeah, and it's light!

  • john March 19, 2011 04:48 am

    Yes the camera bag is the one that I got caught out with not just once but twice :-( Will I ever learn
    But will try and take of my uv filters this weekend while am out with my Camera bag aahhhhhh

  • Martin March 19, 2011 04:42 am

    I'll agree with the camera bag, bought a shoulder strpped lowepro, it sit in a cupboard with the extra gear, in the meantime, my old backpack, made to carry a Nintendo Wii, is doing a better job to cart the camera, a flash, a spare lens and nicknacks around.

  • Erik March 19, 2011 03:21 am


    I do a lot of Studio work and use RF Triggers to control my lighting. I purchased a set from a company called Cactus. They claimed to be as good as a Pocket Wizard. More often than not, they just didnt trigger my strobes causing me to miss some shots that I had to recreate! I know there are many alternatives to Pocket Wizards, but cheaping out was a silly mistake and a waste of time and money!

    Regards, Erik
    Kerstenbeck Photographic Art

  • Chris March 19, 2011 03:14 am

    gorilla pod, tilt and swivel head, cheap glass

  • Killian March 19, 2011 03:07 am

    I actually use my rice bag all the time, and have sewn a few for my friends who are shutterbugs, too. To me, they are invaluable. But I will completely agree that to actually purchase one? Pfft. No way. =)

  • Luke Brannon March 19, 2011 03:07 am

    I also believe in the camera bag thing, I have had over £300 worth of bags and have now stuck to a proper camera rucksack for storage but I just take my shoulder bag (basic canvas bag) around with my camera inside and enough pockets for CPL filters etc. I'm never buying a camera bag again and just sticking to pouches inserted into everyday bags :)

  • C March 19, 2011 03:05 am

    Thanks for the Lenscoat recommendation! The bag that came with my camera is ok for storage purposes, but I can't stand carrying it around. My solution is to carry my gear in a "career tote"-- one of those large bags you can put a laptop in. It's padded and big enough, but manages to be non-bluky and it looks somewhat stylish (if that matters). My lenses get wrapped in soft cloths and stored in makeup bags; I have some that are the perfect size. The Lenscoat will give me the peace of mind that my DSLR body is well-protected too.

  • Katrina Kennedy March 19, 2011 03:03 am

    Agree with the camera bag! I bought a cute, trendy bag that everyone "had to have." It's too heavy, bulky and just not me. I stick my tried and true old, beat up, uncute black plain padded backpack.

  • Melissa March 19, 2011 03:01 am

    I am a big clutz sometimes and I also have 3 kids, so protecting my camera is a big concern for me. The padded lense and body bags perked my interest, but I have to wonder how much protection they really give. Are they simply fancy covers to protect dust and minor dings? If it were in a backpack or purse that was dropped, is it padded enough that it would protect it from damage?

  • Rick March 19, 2011 03:01 am

    A warming filter, or any filter that does anything but polarize or reduce lens speed. Any color effects can be easily (and more accurately) achieved in Lightroom, photoshop, or gimp.

  • fortunato_uno March 19, 2011 03:00 am

    I have a money saver for you. I was looking to find a good bag with out spending the hundreds on a fancy one. I wound up getting a travel bag (the type you use for shaving gear). It holds my two cameras (with lenes on), an extra lense, my portable hard drive, flash, battery charger, some nick-nacks (pen note book and stuff), my chargers. and it cost me a whopping $9.oo. I've got little resources (I'm broke), so I try to buy substitutes. So far so good.

  • Tom March 19, 2011 02:51 am

    I bought a Hama Hand Strap Pro, but I'm completely disappointed. The straps keep loosening up so much that I don't know if I can trust that I don't drop my camera.

  • Kiran March 19, 2011 02:45 am

    Never knew people actually use bean or rice bags and carry it everywhere! Kudos to dedicated photographers :)

  • Gary March 19, 2011 02:44 am

    I agree with items 1 through 5! I'm a rookie, and having "been there, done that" with almost all of these things, I wish I had read something like this early on! But, I tend to learn best the hard way... :)

    I'm still looking for a good bag that fits my needs...which I think is the best way to buy a bag. There are a LOT of nice bags out there, but what do you really NEED?! That narrows the field considerably. :)

  • Daniela Brown March 19, 2011 02:32 am

    Instead of a bean bag, I use a little bag of rice, Its small and easier to carry around. bag of rice > bean bag.

  • Colleen March 19, 2011 02:28 am

    I use my little blower brush, the brush hasn't lost any bristles yet. But I use the Rocket blower for air (I dust off my computer with it, too). I have about 3 unused and/or broken cheap tripods. My expensive Manfrotto broke a year after I bought it (actually, the quick release plate handle broke) and the level never really worked. But it's still vastly better than the cheap tripods. Love it.

  • PbF March 19, 2011 02:27 am

    Ever since I got my camera, I've always been shooting with those cheap UV filters. Yeah, I was told that it should not affect the quality of the photos but at the same time, it also provides protection for the lens (not only from scratches but from smudges also). But I've always wondered why I can't get my photos to be as sharp as I want them to be. Even using tripods, remote control, and self timers did not do much.

    Now this might explain why. So the next time I go out, I'll shoot without the filter.

    Thanks for the tip.

  • Maxbelloni March 19, 2011 02:19 am

    I agree about the beans bag. Luckily I done mine by myself, so I didn't waste money for that :-)

  • Davina March 19, 2011 02:14 am

    i have a little 30 dollar tripod and i have never even used it ....

  • David costa March 19, 2011 02:02 am

    My Gary Fong Tupperware. It has seen very little use, and I get better results just bouncing the light.

  • Mindless March 19, 2011 01:59 am

    Although I am lucky (and maybe stingy?) that I haven't bought any unuseful equipments it is always good (cheaper and better) to learn from other's mistakes so thanks for the advices! :)

  • Yolanda Garfield March 19, 2011 01:57 am

    Interesting about the camera bag. We just bought our camera and did not buy a bag, because we were already giddy from spending the money on the camera and needed to at least catch our breath. I was not happy about this because I was concerned about breaking the camera, but now it seems to have been the right decision. Great advice, thanks!

  • Andrew Johnson March 19, 2011 01:53 am

    Definitely with you on the blower. I would also add a SensorKlear pen, the one for a sensor, not the lens. This just adds crud rather than removing it, pushing it into the corner where it is unreachable. That "great piece of equipment" cost by quite a few pounds to by followed by a £60 professional clean.

    In fact, I seem to have made the same mistakes as yourself!


  • Mei Teng March 19, 2011 01:29 am

    I believe in investing in a good sturdy tripod that I won't have to replace so soon.